Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sense of Sacred


Fr Dwight has put into words a few thoughts that have been hovering around the edge of my mind.

If we lack a sense of the sacred, we have lost something fundamental to being human and humane.

The sense of the sacred gives us a sense of where we stand in the cosmos, without it, we become less than God intended, less than human, sub-human and bestial.


Fr. Z says, "Save the Liturgy, Save the World." An overstatement by a zealous liturgy lover? Perhaps, but on the other hand, ask yourself why there is so little sense of the sacred in our lives.

Why do young people not respect their elders? Why the disintegrating social manners? Why the foul language, the commonplace crudeness? Why the lack of courtesy? Why do we not take time for nice family meals? Why the crassness and vulgarity of modern society when we have enough money to make things nice? Why the lack of self respect? Why the casual, cheap and horrible clothing we wear? Why the sloppy attitudes, sloppy language, sloppy everything?

I reckon it comes down to a lack of the sacred. If you do not believe anything is sacred, then nothing is sacred. If you do not believe there is anything to bow down to, then you never bow down. If there is nothing to worship, then there is nothing much at all. When nothing is sacred all things are equal in value. The lack of the sacred is a great and monstrous leveler.

One of the things we notice at St Mary's Greenville, (where we have made the attempt to bring back the sacred) is that the people dress up more to come to church. They also behave better in church. I reckon it filters down to the rest of life as well. Perhaps by re-sacralizing the sacred we also re-sacralize the rest of life.

Maybe, just maybe, when we bring back the sacred to our worship, all things sacred become more sacred. If we truly worship in church, should we not then value our family meals more? If we take the trouble and care over the liturgy should we not take more trouble and care over our manners, our dress, our relationships and our language?


Worship should transform our perspective on life, so all things beautiful, precious and eternal are valued in a way that is beautiful, precious and eternal.


Bring on the incense. Bring on the beautiful vestments, Sing choirs of angels, roll in the trumpets and drums. Train the noble young men to serve at the altar as if they were servants in the halls of the Great King. Help the noble young women to sing the praises of the king with fine music. Preach the word with passion and beauty. Value the liturgy and take time to worship and see if your world is not renewed.

6 comments:

Philip said...

I hold the the view that church buildings must be always considered as "Sacred Spaces" and not, therefore, used for other uses... such as a place to chat before and after Sunday Mass. Judging by what happens in most parishes, I appear to be in the minority on that one.

frpaul said...

Father,
How sad it is that many people have lost that sense of reverence which should be present in our churches. Dignified liturgy celebrated in beautiful vestments rather than horrible hopsack celebrated in churches that look like churches rather than modren meeting rooms are the way forward. How sad when many priests choose to use pottery chalices and ciboria instead of beautiful silver or gold chalices. If we truly believe in the real presence and the value of the Mass then let us celebrate it with dignity according to the mind of the church.

PeterHWright said...

Philip may be in a minority, but he is not in a minority of one.

And Fr. Paul is absolutely right.

But there will be no regaining the "sense of Sacred" without a return to traditional practices and in communion with the Apostolic See.

"Sentire cum Ecclesia" and let people stop doing their own thing.

V said...

"One of the things we notice at St Mary's Greenville, (where we have made the attempt to bring back the sacred) is that the people dress up more to come to church. They also behave better in church. I reckon it filters down to the rest of life as well."

Women are women in dresses and skirts. Bring in the Mantilla! The Sacred Veil and Head Chapel. It's Mary-like, let's aspire to be like her.

Men look magnificent in jackets & ties!

These are uniquely feminine/masculine expressions ~ joys to experience; reminders of our humanity and sex as God intended.

If we were meeting the Holy Father Pope Benedict in private, would we turn up in jeans? There's no difference with Jesus.

Philip said...

V, one thing that surprises me is how many men attend Mass (and receive Communion) wearing shorts. I've even seen Extraordinary Ministers in shorts.

V said...

Yes, short-wearing men, hmm ... little boys who haven't progressed to long trousers yet?! Or just desperately trying to convince people how fit and strong they are ("I 've just been to the gym"). Who are you kidding?!

Baseball caps really annoy me. Who decided this was a good look for any man not on a baseball team? Hey, God likes balding men too! (And so do women ~ baldness is a sign of higher testosterone ...)

As for women in flip-flops with that awful squelching sound like fish slapping on the deck of a boat ... darling, get a heel.

Many years ago at an Eastern Rite wedding I got told off by the priest for wearing trousers in church. I was a 13-year-old girl at the time; I didn't understand and neither did my mother. We were both outraged at this seemingly outdated patriarchal fuddyduddyness and dismissed it as the conservatism of the Eastern Church, but inwardly more likely just embarrassed he had picked up on it in public.

Respectful clothes are not social restrictions or oppressions; they're liberations. They allow women to express themselves as women (not copying men) and men to express themselves as men (not as little boys). Vive la difference!